Archive for February, 2016

Notes from Greensboro Housing Summit

The Greensboro Housing Coalition hosted it’s annual housing summit today and here are some interesting tidbits that might be of interest to our members:

  • Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan provided an opening address and mentioned that the city council is planning to get an affordable housing bond on the ballot this November.
  • Walker Sanders of The Community Foundation announced that they are going to partner with the city to raise funds to address housing affordability, and the goal is to raise more than they did for the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. That means they’re trying to raise something north of $80 million.
  • Beth Benton, code compliance manager for the city of Greensboro, outlined the changes that had been made to the Greensboro Minimum Housing Commission’s operations. One is that they have started issuing “Orders to Repair” in addition to “Orders to Demolish.” That allows the city to make necessary repairs if the property owner is unable, and then the property owner pays them back over time. One criteria they use when determining whether to repair or demolish is that the repair must cost less than 50% of the tax value of the property.
  • Benton also mentioned that two years ago a developer asked her for a list of properties that had orders to demolish pending. Since then over 80 investors/developers have been added to the list she sends the monthly report to and as a result over 60 houses have been purchased and repaired in the last two years.
  • Stephen Sills of the UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies shared some very interesting data his team has compiled related to poverty, housing affordability and the like. I’m going to try and get a copy to share on a future post.

The summit was an interesting and informative experience and well worth the time for anyone who is involved in housing in Greensboro.


February 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm 1 comment

Underlying Factors In the Housing Affordability Policy Debate

Ken Szymanski, the Executive Director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, has written an outstanding piece on the underlying factors contributing to the housing debate in Charlotte, and many of them apply to us here in the Triad. Some key points are excerpted below, but you really should read the full piece here.

  • Moderate-, middle-, and upper-income households are served perfectly well by the dynamics of the marketplace. But low-income households cannot be served by the marketplace because their buying power is too low. That fact always has and always will generate social and political reactions, because those households are cost-burdened and have to deal with problems of housing quality and overcrowding…
  • At all levels of government—federal, state, and local—for many decades the political will has generally been lacking to materially increase this subsidy coverage of 25 percent. To quote Joseph Califano, a Cabinet secretary under President Jimmy Carter, “You can only go ‘so far’ at redistributing wealth.” We have not seen the political will to spend the money that would increase this materially. Regardless of who the HUD secretary was or whether the person in the White House was an “R” or a “D,” the appetite of elected or appointed officials—or the general public—is not there to go much over 25 percent…
  • State government has a role.  The N.C. Housing Finance Agency has been the state administrator of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.  The federal tax credit program was created in 1986 and generally aims to house those whose income is at or below 60 percent of the area median income level. 
  • The federal government has a role. Formerly, the role of the federal government was to fund public housing and provide below-market interest rate mortgages for multifamily rental housing. The role has been substantially diminished in recent years…
  • Inclusionary policy for new development/mixed-income housing has not attracted developers. Nearly three years ago, the Charlotte City Council approved a voluntary affordable housing “density bonus” for developers. If a developer wanted to build in affluent areas, the city would allow it to build extra units if it included some apartments or homes for low-income residents. But no developer has participated in the program, and the city may be starting over. A number of misconceptions underlie the city’s current inclusionary housing policy, including: a misunderstanding of the importance of return on cost in development feasibility; an overestimation of economies of scale in construction; a stereotype that private developers want to discriminate against poor people.

  • “Source of Income” civil rights issue. Somewhat akin to the inclusionary policy for new development are calls to mandate the acceptance of Section 8 (housing choice) vouchers in existing communities. Some advocates are attempting to make the market-rate rental sector shoulder a disproportionate burden of the city’s affordable housing crisis by making it “discriminatory” for a housing provider to elect not to participate in the voluntary Section 8 program. Making Section 8 voucher administration more market-like, not passing a state “source of income” statute, is the proper way to improve the workability of the federal government’s major housing assistance program.

February 19, 2016 at 3:07 pm 1 comment

Greensboro Approves Multifamily Development in Light Commercial Zones

At it’s Tuesday night meeting Greensboro approved an amendment to its Land Development Ordinance (LDO) that would allow multifamily development in light commercial and office parks throughout the city. The News & Record has the story:

Multi-family housing can now be built in some areas zoned as light commercial and business parks.

The Greensboro City Council voted Tuesday to make that change to its Land Development Ordinance…

A minimum of 10 feet must be maintained between buildings, according to the ordinance. In the affected zones, no more than 33 percent of gross floor area may be developed into multi-family dwellings.

Residential buildings have to architecturally match the commercial structures.

The homes must be integrated into the existing commercial developments and must include vehicular and pedestrian access between residential and non-residential components…

The ordinance requires the homes to be within a half-mile of a public park or greenway.




February 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm 1 comment

New Owners Putting $500K Into Rehab of Cornwallis Manor

The new owners of 51-year old, 66-unit Cornwallis Manor are spending about $500,000 to upgrade the community they bought for $1.9 million last November. The Triad Business Journal has the story:

 Built in 1965, the complex includes one- and two-bedroom units ranging in size from 616 square feet to 927 square feet. There are 40 one-bedroom apartments and 26 two-bedroom apartments, Sloop said…

Common areas have been refurbished, and a fitness center and storage cages have been added for residents. In the spring, the owners will paint the building’s exterior and seal-coat the parking areas, Sloop said. About $500,000 will be invested in the overhaul, he said.

Units will be upgraded as they turnover, and will rent for $895 to $1,095 monthly, he said. Wrenn Zealy Property Management is the leasing agent and property manager.

February 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm 1 comment

Garden Style Apartments Out of Vogue?

Axiometrics has an article (found via NAA’s Industry Insider) about the current trend towards high- and mid-rise apartment developments:

According to “Number of Multifamily Buildings Completed by Number of Floors: Built for Rent,” a section in the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual Survey of Construction, the number of apartment buildings with four or more stories is taking an increasingly larger share of the total completed in the national apartment market…

Source: Axiometrics

After ranging from 3% to 7% and averaging 4% from 1999-2007, the share of new apartment buildings of four or more stories increased to 9% from 2008-2011, with a 16% peak in 2010. The share increased from 10% in 2012 to 13% the next year and finished 2014 at 15%.

The share of buildings with 20 or more units also is increasing. Those properties averaged about 21% from 1999-2007 before climbing to 31% in 2008 and rising steadily to reach 47% by 2014…

Garden apartment projects, which typically average less than 20 units per building and once represented almost half of all rental buildings constructed, now comprise less than one-third of apartment construction.

February 5, 2016 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

FHA Initiative Intended to Boost Development of Affordable Housing

From Housing Wire (via NAA Industry Insider):

The Federal Housing Administration announced a new plan to reduce multifamily insurance rates in order to encourage capital financing of affordable and energy-efficient apartments…

The rate reductions will take effect on April 1, 2016, and will directly impact FHA’s Multifamily Housing Programs and properties housing low- and moderate-income families and/or developments installing energy-efficient systems or building within federal energy guidelines.

As a result, the FHA said it expects the multifamily insurance rate reductions to cause the rehabilitation of an additional 12,000 units of affordable housing per year nationally…

The FHA also announced that it is reducing upfront premiums to support its affordable housing and energy efficiency goals. Upfront insurance rates will be set at 25 basis points for Broadly Affordable and Energy-Efficient properties and 35 basis points for Mixed-Income properties. 

February 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm 1 comment

Report on “Overincome” Families in Public Housing

A nationwide audit by HUD’s Office of the Inspector General revealed that 25,000 overincome families are living in public housing and Fox 8 took a look at it from a local angle:

Local entities with overincome residents in the report included: Greensboro (17 families listed overincome), High Point (6), North Wilkesboro (12), Winston-Salem (3), Madison (3), Mt. Airy (3), Asheboro (2), Troy (2), Mt. Gilead (1), East Spencer (1), New Randleman (1), and Burlington (1).

Many were barely over the income threshold. Those on the higher end included a Greensboro family making $73,097, a High Point family making $66,744, a Madison family making $70,923 a year, and a Wilkesboro family making $65,286 a year.

That summary reflects the OIG data in 2015 and may not represent current situations in individual housing authorities…

Referring to the highest examples on the Greensboro list, Akers Brown explained, “That report would have been a point in time. Because our families are so transient, that is not the case today. So you could have somebody overincome today and they’re not overincome tomorrow because they lost their job or one of their children lost their job, a variety of different reasons. So we do not have anybody that has that income level today.”

As of Wednesday, GHA now has eight overincome families in their portfolio, she said, and six of them have been over the threshold for less than a year.

“Some are overincome by as little as $34. So there’s a wide range of overincome families that are served. When you’re talking about eight families total, that’s not a lot a lot of families when you look at the number we serve.”

Akers Brown emphasized GHA serves more than 12,000 people in the greater Greensboro area.

You can read the full report from HUD’s OIG here.

February 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm 1 comment

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